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Fear is a nasty thing.

My baby dog Cali has been acting a little abnormal lately. It hasn’t been long, a week or two at best. An accident while she was sleeping, brushed off as she was sleeping too soundly and didn’t wake up in time. An increase in water intake, clearly from it being so hot outside. But then she got these sick, sad eyes and would look at me and I just knew in my mom gut something wasn’t right.

After another accident this weekend, I assumed the worst. (Naturally). So when you are worried, what’s the best thing to do?

Pray, call, make a doctor appointment, think positively and wait until your appointment.

Well, yes, that is the right thing. Unfortunately that’s not what I did. I turned to Google. (Never a good idea).

What I learned was that Cali likely has diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. So I continued to “research”, staying up on my phone till 3:00 am, reading article after article about what this means for her life span and quality of life, while letting my brain race.

The next day, the day the vet was of course closed, I couldn’t shake the anxiety in my stomach that I was going to lose Cali. Of course her dying was the natural thing to assume. Could I hold her while she was put to sleep? Would I survive it? What was wrong with her?

All of my worries ran through my mind like a fire in Colorado, one that couldn’t be put out. I felt physically sick to my stomach. It started in my tummy, like a burning rock that made me want to throw up. Then it spread up to my diaphragm, like hot lava spreading up to my heart, which ached, then up my throat, sitting there like a form of acid. The anxiety of losing my furbaby, the one who has been by my side for 8 years and licked my tears and cuddling against my barren stomach was too much for me to process.

I KNEW better than to let myself go. I recited all the verses I knew about worry and anxiety and trusting God. In fact, I actually begin to think that God was going to take Cali from me as some sort of test of my faith (because I haven’t been through enough) and all day I plead with God, trying to convince Him that I was strong enough without this test of faith.

I was stumped. How could I be praying, reading scripture, and yet so physically ill from the anxiety? Wasn’t the peace of God supposed to take away this pit in my stomach? What was I doing wrong? I had faith that God could heal Cali, but was assuming He wasn’t. I was being honest to Him with my emotions, scribbling down in my journal I’m so scared today Lord. I know you know how much I love Cali and I am terrified that I am going to lose her. I know I would survive but the thought of having to go through that pain paralyzes me and makes me anxious. God, you are a healer and I pray for healing for Cali and Lord, you also are a comforter and I pray that you comfort my heart and calm my anxious thoughts, surrounding them with your peace.

And still the anxiety grew. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t disengage from the fear. I read Steven Furtick’s words about fear – “…if left alone, it (fear) tends to compound, spread and destroy. Little fears can cohabitate and combine to form levels of anxiety and terror that will annihilate our awareness of the presence of God….therefore, our approach to dealing with fear cannot be passive. Because fear doesn’t evaporate. It must be evicted.”

I was letting the fear destroy me, trusting God but trusting Google more. I was engaging the fear by just looking up “one more thing”. It was awful. I was expecting the fear to evaporate instead of being proactive to just STOP playing the “what-if’s” in my head and setting the phone down. Josh eventually was able to pry the phone from my hands (which resulted in me missing lots of texts, sorry for my abrupt absence to those texting). And then I just had to wait.

Josh prayed for Cali and I and that made me feel better. I took a sleeping pill (the only logical thing to do to stop the voices) and made an appointment for the first thing this morning.

I teared up as I brought Cali to the car, for some reason terrified that they wouldn’t give her back to me if something was wrong. Lord please, any other sacrifice …

(Side note – isn’t it funny how dramatic our brains can be when in FEAR MODE? Logic makes no sense, even typing this now I am wondering how I let myself get so out of control. But that voice just fed on itself and unfortunately, I let it.)

I talked to the vet, spilling out my concerns … a few accidents, maybe drinking more or maybe just hot, sad eyes that have nothing to do with the fireworks, I think … I just know … diabetes? Dying? The look of empathy he gave me was calming, Is she eating normally? (yes) Is she showing a lack of interest in everything? (no, I had to tear her away from her toys to get her into the car this morning) Is her belly bloated? (No) The questions continued and I realized my Google research lead me astray a bit. They brought her back and took a urine sample (poor little pup and the catheter) and some blood work. While we waited Cali demonstrated her tricks for the techs (balancing and high fives and rolling and spinning in a circle and such) – all clearly evidence that she was on her last leg, right? Sigh.

Well, the results are in. She doesn’t have diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. She has a slight UTI and low estrogen (like her mom, go figure), which is causing slight incontinence. Are you sure she isn’t dying??? (“She has some of the best blood work and urine results we have seen, she is extremely healthy and has a long life ahead of her.”) And no diabetes? (“Not a trace.”). And so we were off, with antibiotics in hand and a low-dose estrogen that she will take twice a day for the rest of her long life.

That was a lot of worry for nothing. And how I wish I could have told my yesterday-self that it would all work out like this. SHE WILL BE FINE. Stop the voice. But I just couldn’t build up enough strength to trust God and stop my racing mind. I wish there was a “Peace of God” pill, but there isn’t. I know next time to stay off of Google  – to EVICT the fear by stopping my thoughts. By running the other way and to NOT play out all of the what-if’s before they come true. I wish I could say next time an anxiety attack like this hits, that I can say I will have it under control, but it’s so hard.

“Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, “Be quiet!” and he said to the waves, “Be still!” The wind died down, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 GNT)

When I read these verses today, I couldn’t help but feel God was speaking directly to me – Chelsea, why are you so frightened? Do you still not believe that I have things under control? That you can trust me? That you have nothing to fear because you always will have my protection over you? Trust me, regardless of the outcomes.

What a struggle this is! One I will continue to work on. I wish I was better at trusting. It’s a muscle that I need to continue to work on and I know that in order to work on it, I need to face situations in my life that require trust. It’s scary, but not as scary as the what-if’s. He’s got my back.

In the meantime, send us good luck wishes as we attempt to get a very stubborn little dog to take her antibiotics twice a day. And send Josh well wishes as he now has to live with two hormonally-imbalanced ladies. HA! :)

My sweet little puppy-cannoli.

My sweet little hormone imbalanced puppy-cannoli.

friday favorites – july 4.

Happy 4th of July! For my USA friends, I hope you have fun plans ahead to celebrate Independence Day. Judging by the sounds of the 9:45 am fireworks going off, it’s safe to say our neighbors are starting the celebrations early, much to Cali’s dismay. Have fun and be safe today people!

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Now without further adieu, Friday Favorites! Let’s jump right in.

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Favorite Moment:

Josh and I got to celebrate our 9 year anniversary this last Wednesday and I felt so incredibly surrounded by love the whole day. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us through a comment, like, message or text as well! Josh surprised me by coming home early from work that day and surprised me by having my wedding dress cleaned and preserved. (It was one of those things I never did and completely forgot about, so I was really surprised! It looks beautiful all cleaned up!) We enjoyed a great dinner out downtown and laughed and played cards. Yes, cards. We are semi-addicted to Golf and Phase 10 and like the old married couple we are, shuffled our way through the evening. It was perfect!

A quick little picture before dinner ….

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And then we noticed Cali’s tail, since she was obviously trying to get in to the picture. But 19 tries later, it was clear that she really didn’t wanted to LOOK at the camera, just be in the way. Oh well, we tried!

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Favorite Local Find:

My friend introduced me to a new restaurant in the Twin Cities called Yum Kitchen and Bakery and it was delicious! We worked up an appetite walking over there from her house and enjoyed their signature iced tea (AMAZING) and mahi mahi fish tacos. Oh, and we shared some fries – they are a MUST there! If you are in the Twin Cities, head on over and give them a try. They have a small gluten free menu as well, making it a win-win!

 

Favorite Photo Taken:

There was a sunset last weekend that took my breath away. I love that we can see views like this from our front porch. Beautiful!

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Favorite Quote:

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love.”

I read this in my devotional earlier today and LOVED it. I know that sometimes, when answered prayers seem ages away, and we assume that the delays we are experiencing are denials, it just don’t feel like He loves us. We can turn our wish list into a sign that He loves us (or doesn’t) and when life falls short of our expectations, we can begin to doubt Him. I loved the word grieve in the quote above … Do not grieve Him… If Josh ever began to express to me that he doubted my love, it would make me SO sad. I would constantly be trying to tell him and show him that I love him. It would be even more hurtful and heartbreaking if he continued to doubt my love even after I did everything I could to make it abundantly clear to him that I loved him. Thinking about God in this way was a great reminder to me this morning. Every minute I breathe, He is showing His love for me. Questioning that only breaks His heart. God’s character isn’t that of delay, but of perfect love and timing and is OUTSIDE of any circumstances or situations I encounter.

Favorite Find:

Yea, okay, so “Favorite Find” isn’t necessarily a great section, but I really just need an excuse to share this hoodie I found for Cali at a thrift shop yesterday.

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HA! She’s a little Gap girl. How stinking cute is that!? Clearly she isn’t as thrilled as me, but come on … pure adorable-ness going on right there.

Favorite Product:

My friend Karen sent me a little sample of Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion in the shade sin and oh my goodness, this is my new favorite make-up product. I am squeezing out the last little bit of my sample and putting this on my birthday list for sure. Who knew that eyeshadow primer really worked??? LOVE.

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Favorite Funnies:

And of course ….

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(No really, this is scary stuff.)

(No really, this is scary stuff.)

Alright, now off your phones or computers and go enjoy your day! To all the dog owners out there who’s dogs are terrified of fireworks – good luck tonight … we WILL get through this weekend! (This is Cali’s LEAST favorite holiday of all times ….) Happy 4th of July!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

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Well, we have made it through all of the calendar landmines for 2014. We just cleared Frostie’s due date (our last frozen embryo we transferred last fall) and I feel relieved to be past all 4 of the “I should be in labor right now …” days. I know that I will always carry those due dates on my heart. There will always be days in January, April, June, and September that are carved into my soul with love for my babies that should have been. As I reflect back on so many emotions of the last 5+ years, I realize that infertility is incredibly complex, making me have days and moments where I feel like there are 18 different Chelsea’s crammed into one body.

I am here to let you know that if there are moments you feel like your world is caving in and you just don’t know if you can keep going, you are normal.

If you have moments where you feel like the sun is shining extraordinary bright and your heart has nothing but hope in it, you are normal.

If you have moments where you burst into tears for no reason at all, you are normal.

If you have moments where your heart aches with a physical pain and you are concerned that you actually may be having a heart attack because it hurts that bad, you are normal.

If you have moments where you are so grateful for your spouse and what you have that you can’t wipe the smile off your face, you are normal.

If you have moments where you pat your hormone induced belly bloat and talk to a fake baby bump, you are normal. (Also normal, pushing out your stomach and taking selfies to see what you will look like when you actually are pregnant.)

If you have moments where you contemplate knocking over a smoking pregnant woman and screaming at her about how stupid she is, you are normal.

If you have moments where you find yourself wandering the baby aisles at Target, softly petting the ‘I love Mommy’ onsies, wondering if you will ever be able to buy it for yourself, you are normal.

If you have moments where you enjoy your freedom to go out to a movie on a whim with your husband and are secretly grateful for that flexibility, you are normal.

If you have moments where you go on a ‘you are pregnant, therefore hidden’ binge on Facebook and erase the physical reminders that all 319 friends of yours are pregnant, you are normal.

If you have moments where you cry with happiness because a friend shares with you that she is expecting, you are normal. (Also normal, crying in the bathroom later because you guys were supposed to be pregnant together.)

If you have moments where you feel completely content with your trial and embrace each day with strength and joy, you are normal.

If you have moments where you hear phantom crying in the middle of the night for the infant you wish was beside the bed, you are normal.

If you cringe when a pregnant woman complains about how fat she is getting, you are normal.

If you roll your eyes every time you have to buy ANOTHER bottle of prenatal vitamins, you are normal.

If you get excited about ovulation tests, raised body temps and cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you hate everything about ovulation tests, body temping and analyzing your cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you get anxiety when your angel baby’s “birthday” comes around, you are normal.

If you want to quit this journey and start traveling and living life, you are normal.

If you can’t stop thinking about the “what if’s” all day, you are normal.

If you don’t think about infertility for a clump of time, you are normal.

If you hate that your sex occasionally has to be timed and that you need to lay with your legs in the air for 15 minutes after, you are normal.

If you find yourself getting excited about a new vitamin, supplement, cream, herb, or technique, you are normal.

If you feel like you just can’t turn off your brain, you are normal.

If you are suddenly and overwhelmingly comforted by God’s peace in your darkest moments, you are normal.

If there are days where God seems so far away and you have no idea if He hears your prayers, you are normal.

If you wonder WHY WHY WHY WHY on a regular basis, you are normal.

If you get excited when you think about the opportunity to make this misery into a ministry, you are normal.

If you cling to the reminder that God won’t waste a hurt, you are normal.

If you feel like no one understands you, you are normal.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are struggling with infertility. Every day is a new day, new emotions surging through you and new triggers that stand in your way. I am doing my best each day to keep things in perspective, reminding myself that it could be worse and be thankful for the opportunity to strength my faith, grow as a woman and with Josh as a couple, and feed on the faithfulness of God. But I also have my moments where I want to pick up the towel and throw it in, declaring myself officially barren and binging on spa trips and new clothes.

So, where does that leave us? Well, our western medicine interventions are still on hold. I have been going back to acupuncture weekly and getting sessions, along with cupping for my back pain. My back pain is thankfully more mild than severe and the sessions seem to be helping, and for that I am grateful. I haven’t been back to the naturopathic doctor in a while and feel peace about that decision. I learned a lot from him though and still regularly take my daily vitamins and supplements. (For those who are interested, I take a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D3 and C, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitex Fruit, Maca Root, Vessel Care, COQ10 and a baby aspirin daily). My cycles since my April surgery haven’t been awesome. I had a 49 day cycle the month of my laparoscopy, which I know can be normal. This last cycle I didn’t ovulate and I induced a period using natural progesterone cream, resulting in a 45 day cycle. We are adding in herbs this cycle, mixing in 5 teaspoons of this unique mixture into hot water and chugging it twice a day and I am hoping that this brings positive change.

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I have been doing castor oil packs on my back and will now start doing abdominal ones leading up to ovulation. I have heard good things about that and have tried it in the past and found it relaxing. I would really like to be more consistent with it though. I aim to improve my health this summer, hoping losing some weight and getting back on track with my low carb/sugar diet. I have no clue what the future holds and just continue to pray that God would make a new path incredibility obvious for us. All in all, I know that this rests in hands much larger than mine. I will be hopping back into the working world soon, covering a maternity leave at the hospital I used to work at and am excited for that change in routine (and am grateful its only 12 weeks). One day at a time right? I will do my best to continue to keep you updated. I have a blog on infertility; I should share my own story more often, right?

Thanks for continuing to coat our journey in your prayers and cares. It means so much to us. As time goes on, I know this trial can start to feel so routine, yet it’s a real hurt on our hearts every day. It never gets easier on our hearts. We learn to cope better, adjusting our perspective or embracing how we are being stretched, but the pain is still raw and real. At the end of the day, we KNOW that God will continue to use this for good and that because of Jesus, there is no worst case scenario for us.

See you Friday for Friday Favorites! :)

friday favorites – june 27.

Happy Friday friends! I am not really sure how these summer days are going by so quickly. I didn’t even get a chance to blog during the week this week. *Gulp* But I have written some great posts in my head in bed around midnight a few nights, so that’s gotta count for something, right? :) Well, without further delay, here are this week’s Friday Favorites!

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Favorite Moment: Seriously, this one will sound silly, because I have A LOT of great moments from this last week, but it’s a simple one. Last night my sis and I headed down to Marketfest, a local little town get together a few cities over, and we sat and watched a high school drum line perform. It seriously was the most adorable thing and I couldn’t stop smiling for so many reasons.

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They were very serious about their performance, and seeing 14-year olds trying to play stoically and stone faced made me giggle. I loved the simple nature of the introductions of each member and Courtney and I joined in loudly cheering for the few kids who clearly had no support in the audience. You could tell it made them feel cool and that was adorable. They were talented! I mean, I am no drum-liner, but it sounded good and their pride in their performance (as well as a few nerves) was literally almost too much for my heart to watch. I live for these adorable moments. I know this all sounds dramatic (welcome to my life), but I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

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(And because it’s hard to just pick one, another Favorite Moment was an awesome date night I had with Josh early this week. We laughed, enjoyed some freebies and made the most of a Wednesday night. Yay!)

Boo bad lighting!

Boo bad lighting! But he sure is cute! :)

Favorite Song: Anyone remember Alex and Sierra from X-Factor? I loved this duo on the show (an acoustic-y pop Sonny and Cher) and they just released their new single this week, Scarecrow. It’s such a catchy number and I have found myself dancing around singing to it a time or two (or three…) this week. A fun summer tune plus a super cute music video made using puppets.

Favorite Quote or Verse: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” –John 14:13-14

When I ran across this verse earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think JACKPOT! It’s one of those verses that can suddenly make Jesus seem like a magic genie and turn hopeful expectations into a no-brainer that things will magically and suddenly go my way. I mean, I’m asking, He’s promising, it’s a great arrangement. Right?

Well, I quickly was convicted on this way of thinking and as I kept reading it over and over and over again, I begin to think about why Jesus said this. Jesus was willing to act so that the Father may be glorified. He was willing to do what was asked of Him (in His name) for that one reason. As I kept praying, I realized that to be like Christ, I would have to have the same willingness and intentions as Him in this. My prayer back to God looked something like this: Lord, whatever you ask of me, I will do it, that the Father and the Son may be glorified. If you are asking anything of me, in your name, I will do it. It’s a mighty big prayer to pray but a lesson and a verse that deeply touched my soul and heart this week.

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Favorite Photo(s): I got to spend some fun quality time with Josh and my parent-in-laws on Saturday morning at the golf course and love the shot I got of him hitting off of the first hole into the cool morning fog.

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Yes, the 5:45 am alarm wake-up call was a little early for me, but once we were out on the course, I had a blast watching the family golf, snapping pictures and riding along in the cart with my book. I am not a golfer, but managed to try to hit a ball.

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Unfortunately what this photo doesn’t show is the ball rolling to the left about 5 feet away … well, I tried. :)

AND it was my in-laws 39th anniversary too - how cute are they!?

AND it was my in-laws 39th anniversary that day too – how cute are they!?

Favorite New Local Find: A friend of mine, Kara, told me about a local coffee shop that she thought I would love and of course I just had to go check it out! It’s called J. Arthur’s Coffee in Roseville, MN and it was an adorable place. I met my sweet friend Erica there and while the inside ambiance is amazing (picture rustic tables with individual lamps, big comfy chairs, wide open windows and deep, rich wood colors), we both decided to embrace the warm, sunny day and sit on the patio. The lattes were yummy (chai and vanilla), the conversation full of laughter and sincerity and we managed to chat away for 2 and a half hours while working on our tans. A win-win, right? If you are in the area, check it out!

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(Side note – can I just brag on this young lady? Erica just graduated from high school this year and I am always richly blessed when I get to spend time with an amazing teenager like herself! It’s tough world out there and she is conquering it with grace, integrity and a foundation rooted in the Lord. Adore her!)

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Our anniversary! Josh and I are celebrating 9-years together as a married couple next week on the 2nd. I love being married to this man EVERY day, but there is something extra special about anniversaries. Like any marriage, there have been up’s and down’s and it takes time, effort, prayers and mutual investment to make it flourish and I can’t imagine doing that with anyone else. He still makes my heart go pitter-patter and my sides ache from laughing. Love you honey! Happy early anniversary!

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Favorite Funnies: And now, my personal favorites ….

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That’s all for the week! Enjoy your weekend! Do something kind for someone else, offer grace to someone who maybe doesn’t deserve it and force yourself to smile when you least feel like it. XOXO!

 

friday favorites – june 20.

Time for another posting of Friday Favorites! Without further delay, let’s jump right in.

Favorite Moment: My dog Cali has desperately needed a haircut for about a month and I put off scheduling it too long apparently because when I called, her groomer was booked out several weeks. GASP. Poor Cali has been so hot outside and we have been waiting for her appointment at the end of June to arrive when suddenly – ring ring – the groomer call with a last minute cancellation. Hurray! So thankfully I got to bring Cali in over a week early. *insert heavenly choir singing here*

I didn’t tell Josh about the cancellation and Cali got to surprise him with her fancy new do when he got home from work. (Hey, we don’t have kids, these are the things we get excited about.) I may be biased but I seriously think we have the cutest dog in the world.

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She feels like a velvety teddy bear and smells like lavender and sunshine.

Favorite Thing I Own: Hands down, my new mug from my friend Tiffany. I have to be honest with you folks, I am ub-sessed with Harry Potter. Love. (I just removed several examples from this paragraph upon edit – you’re welcome.) Anyways, my friend Tiff has an equal love for all things Potter and recently made a trip down to Disney to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios. *Chelsea faints at the idea* Long story made short to avoid unnecessary tears from the author – Tiffany surprised me with this new mug that arrived to my house earlier this week, in the original bag from the purchase. How cool am I now?? A gigantic THANK YOU to my friend – people like us have to stick together – and another gigantic THANK YOU to my friends who don’t understand this obsession and still choose to be my friend.

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Favorite Quote: “So often we simply neglect to look for the answers to what we have asked, which shows the lack of earnestness in our petitions.” -Charles H. Spurgeon-

I can be SO guilty of this at times. It is much easier to ask “why why why” and bemoan a situation rather than roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty searching for answers. If you have followed my blog long enough, or know me at all, it shouldn’t surprise you that for me, these answers come from reading God’s Word (the Bible). I don’t want to be a question asker – I want to me an answer seeker!

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Favorite New Recipe: I have tried a few new recipes this last week but this one for Pineapple Salsa was a real winner! I served it with fish tacos and tortilla chips earlier in the week, then whipped up another batch for my ladies small group last night. It went FAST both times – enjoy!

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2 cups finely diced fresh pineapple (this was about a whole one for me)

1 cup diced red pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

2-3 tbsp finely chopped jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded (I would start with less and build up to the heat you like.)

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 large lime

Salt, to taste.

Combine everything, stir well. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

Favorite Celebration: Father’s Day! I probably could dive much deeper into this whole topic with the spirit of infertility in mind, but I don’t have the words to do so this year. However I do want to celebrate the dads in my life and Josh.

My dad Tim has blessed our family with his patience, his humor and his unconditional love for as long as I have been around. He loves both of his daughters so much and has been the best dad. He always starts off the day with a text, checking in to see how I am and is always there for me in any and every way. He’s taught me important lessons like “when you are driving, don’t ever swerve for a bird, they will fly away” and the importance of making a good cup of French press coffee.  I loved being able to spend the day with him and my family after 6 years of living in a different state as them. He is worth celebrating every day – love you a ton Dad!

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My father-in-law Chet has been the kind of in-law that people pray for and rarely get. He is such a pillar of strength in the family and someone that my husband (and I) has always looked up to and learned from in so many ways. He welcomed me into the family almost a decade ago with so much love (and way too many “humorous” tricks) and I am forever grateful for that. He has taught me how to catch the BIG fish out on the lake and how to make up Chuck Norris jokes on the fly. I am so thankful to have him as another dad and appreciate and love him so much.

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And lastly Josh – what can I say about him? First of all, on behalf of Cali, he really is the best furdad ever. He has so much love for our little pup. For some reason Cali chooses to sleep on his pillow every night and he lets her, humbly accepting the 2 inches of feathers she allows him. He plays with her when he is tired and chases her when she wants to be chased. She is his outside lawn-care buddy and she loves him so much her tail nearly snaps off every time so sees him. He is the best.

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He also is the best to-be dad, the dad of angel babies and dreams. He spent his Father’s Day morning volunteering in our church parking lot despite the fact that in doing so, he would be reminded for 5 hours that this was a day to celebrate dads and their children. I asked him if he wanted to get someone to switch with him and he said “nah, the subs would just be dads and I would rather let them be with their kids.” His strength is amazing. I avoid church on days like that and there he is, someone strongly desiring to be a dad, welcoming in dads with a smile. He’s my hero.

A special thank you to those who remembered him on that day. Josh was able to be celebrated by family and friends with cards and words for the doggy dad he is, for the dad he will be one day, God willing, and for the role that he plays in the lives of our nieces. He felt so loved and special and as a wife, that was the best feeling. Thank you to everyone who cared and reached out.

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Favorite Message: Our church had a message last week called More Than Happy – Joy in the Struggle, and it was hands down, one of the best messages I have heard in a long time – like, it wins for favorite message easily this year and last year. Loved it. I strongly encourage you to either download it on iTunes or take a few minutes to watch this 28-minute video.

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Video Link: http://eaglebrookchurch.com/media-resources/weekend-messages/joy-in-struggle/

Favorite Funnies: And saving the best for last ….

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Have a great weekend friends!

 

 

joseph.

Ever hear the story of Joseph from the Bible? The story that Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat in loosely based on? It’s a great story and one I tend to breeze over in the Bible since I have heard it over and over again. For those of you who don’t know it or want to read a refresher, in summary, Joseph grew up in a family with his 11 brothers and dad Jacob, who favored him. His brothers got jealous of that and grew to hate him, even more so when Joseph started sharing revelations from his dreams that his brothers would one day bow down to him. They planned to kill him, but instead sold him to a caravan going to Egypt and told their dad Jacob that Joseph was dead. Still with me? So Joseph ended up being sold as a slave to an officer in the army, got accused of something false and was thrown in prison where he remarkably continued to have a positive influence on God’s kingdom. Finally, 13 years after he was sold as a slave, he became recognized by the King due to his God-given gift to interpret dreams and was made a ruler in Egypt.

Okay, so keep all of that in mind because it’s important. Joseph’s life kind of sucked! I mean, imagine growing up with tons of brothers who hate you. I am sure that the ridiculing was worse than just a few wet willy’s or noogies. I mean, they were so mad they plotted to kill him, so we know that house must have been a little (or a lot) hostile. So then Joseph gets sold as a slave, which, hello, would be awful. Imagine having freedom and then suddenly being ripped from your home and forced to be a slave for someone who’s wife keeps putting you in a very difficult position. Then you get accused of something false and thrown in prision. Again, suckfest.

So I am sitting here reading all this today and cringing at the thought of this tough life Joseph was living. I mean, I am CERTAIN that he was wondering “Why God???” Why have you put me in this place? Why have you forced me into this situation that is lonely and painful and confusing? Why why why? But I am so amazed at how Joseph continued to trust God in these desolate moments. I am sure he had to fight off hopelessness daily. Life was not how he planned it to be.

Fast forward a bit. Joseph is around 39 or 40 when he is moved into this new place of power. So, I continue reading when I come to these verses*:

During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath … Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

Two things stand out. One, the fact that God can bless us in such an unexpected way that He can make us forget all of our troubles, all of the years that we have felt trapped to a struggle or hardship, all of the tears that we have cried. God is capable and able to help us let go of the hurts that held onto our hearts for so long. Two, God can make us fruitful in the places that hurt us the most. This verse doesn’t say “God can keep us alive by a thin strand in the land of sorrow.” or “God has made me survive in the land of my grief.” … it says FRUITFUL.

Definition of fruitful: producing an abundance of growth, yielding fruit and results

We have the ability to have an abundance of growth right here, right here in the places we struggle most, the places that cause us the most grief, that make us wonder “why?”.

What is it for you? Is it struggling with your job, feeling like you just will never get a foot ahead or succeed? Is it struggling in your marriage, feeling like you are just on autopilot and missing the intimacy you once had? Is it struggling with your weight or food choices, always wondering when you will beat the addictive cycle and become a healthier you? Is it struggling being single, feeling lonely when all of your friends marry and have their other half? Is it carrying the burden of infertility, feeling so left out in a world full of families and aching for one of your own? Or perhaps you’re a mom who is feeling lost in the monotony of a toddler life – cleaning cheerios off the floor and saying “no” or “not now” all day. What is causing you to feel a little lost right now, your land of your affliction?

There is good news to all of this. God is with us and God will come in and save the day. He always does. It doesn’t always look the way we think it would or should look, but He is so faithful in blessing us and providing for us when we continue to stay faithful to Him. And it IS possible to produce fruit right where you are – midst divorce, midst family turmoil, midst another failed IVF cycle and midst seasons of lost purpose.

We can find purpose in our “chains” when we look for ways for God to use us, right where we are. Let’s continue to have confidence that He will work our tough times out for His good. I know the stretching is hard, I’m certain 13 years as a slave and in prison wasn’t exactly how Joseph pictured his life, but in the end, there was so much good that came from his story. Ours too – there is good to come. Keep the faith friends.

*Genesis 41:50-52 (NLT)

friday favorites – june 13.

Whooo hooo! It’s time for this week’s edition of Friday Favorites? Who’s excited?

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Let’s jump right in.

Favorite Moment:

My favorite moments this week were centered around friendships. I had so many great conversations (and food) with special people in my life this week. Crispy buffalo wings and saucy fingers while Josh and I sat across from Andrea and Ricky, chattering away summer plans, weddings and hunting (you can probably guess who was having which conversation.) Fish tacos in the sun on a beautiful afternoon in Uptown with Alicia, sipping Chamomile Mint iced tea and chatting about life and its ever so present highs and lows. A few days later, creamy cashew chicken salad served out of a pineapple with Sarena, words pouring out of our mouths about how God is moving and working in our lives. Then at a kitchen island with Jana, a Starbucks in hand, a candle burning on the stove and a 5 year old Chloe carefully applying her Hello Kitty lipgloss next to me. As I sat across from Jana, my soul was refreshed as we processed life, challenging one another and laughing as we carefully applied polish to our fingernails. Authentic relationships can be hard to come by and it was in each of these moments where I realized how grateful I am to have such beautiful relationships in my life. People I can laugh with, cry with, vent and be honest with. These moments are so very special.

Favorite Product:

A few months back I got a sample of Dr. Jart+ BB Beauty Balm Cream in my Birchbox and fell in love with it. I went out to Sephora and bought the full-size tube of it and have used it every day since then. It’s a little pricey (I got the kind with the sunscreen) but I bought it in early March and it still has another good couple of months left to it, so well worth the money. I particularly love it during these summer months since it’s light weight and easy. (And if you ever are interested in getting in on the Birchbox fun, let me know and I will send you an invite so you can skip the wait!)

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Favorite Photo Taken:

This picture was just captured earlier today at the start of an outside dance party. In my books, when a good song comes out, you drop whatever you are doing (in our case, making a play-doh spider) and move to the rhythm. (Plus their adorable outfits just make this auntie smile!)

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Favorite Project Completed:

Do you ever have those projects that just loom over your head? The ones you keep putting off and that when enough time passes, you begin to rationalize that doesn’t need to be done anymore? (I’m raising my hand.) For me it was boxes in my basement. A mixed assortment of unpacked boxes from our move (3 and a half years ago …) and a collection of junk that has grown and grown and grown. Well, enough was enough! My amazing sister came over early on her day off and we tackled the boxes. We ran bins and bags over to the Salvation Army, filled up the garbage can, and oooohed and ahhhhed over memories we ran across. Man, it feels SO good to be done! As I laid back in bed Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but think “why didn’t I do that sooner???” (And seriously, Courtney, thank you SO MUCH for helping me! You kept me focused and on track!)

Of course we found time to stop for an ever-important iced coffee at Starbucks! We may be sweaty but at least we are caffeinated.

Favorite Meal:

Easy! It was a gluten free sandwich that my sister and I shared midst our work on Tuesday. We ran down to St. Paul to use a Groupon to the Finnish Bistro (a favorite!) and met this yummy combination of flavors. It was an open-faced slow braised pork sandwich that was topped with sautéed cabbage and onions, melted Swiss Cheese and a creamy Thousand Island dressing. It was drool worthy and I wish I had a picture! We ate it was too fast for that though.

Favorite Funnies:

Okay, this totally is going to be a favorite section to do. So many giggles!

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Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for reading!

 

wanting.

Let’s go ahead and list some things that we want: I want to not have to worry about gluten, carbs or sugars. I want Cali to live forever (or at least the same amount of time as me). I want to be able to fit into those size 4 jeans that are on clearance at Nordstrom Rack. I want to live in a warm state year round, where my windows can always stay open without the worry about freezing to death or sweating profusely. I want to have a family, one with babies crying in the middle of the night and toddler hand prints marking my windows. I want to have a Starbucks drive thru a block from my house and I want fresh flowers to always grace my kitchen with their presence. Simple enough, right?

Wanting is a perplexing thing. Some things I want are obtainable, and others things seem so impossible that it leaves me frustrated since I simply can‘t wish it into existence. We have been raised in a society where we are told we can “be anything we want to be”. I always thought that statement was stupid, even as a child, knowing that even if I wanted to be an astronaut, putting my mind to it would likely not make it realistic. Well, you know what world, I want to be a mom! Let’s make it happen, snap snap!

But the truth is, even with science and technology what it is, sometimes that wish just isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, we have been so lucky to have medically tried as much as we have. 6 clomid cycles, 3 (4? 5?) Femara cycles and IUI’s, 4 rounds of IVF, acupuncture and naturopathic appointments … all without insurance coverage? Yuck. I see friends of mine wanting a family so badly, yet the reality of the expenses that come with infertility treatments will forever prevent them from venturing down a more hands-on treatment. Adoption and surrogate costs are astronomically high as well. We are so blessed that we have even been able to try as much as we have.

Well World, a little piece of advice, sometimes you can’t be anything you want to be or do everything you want to do. Let’s be honest, I don’t think these hips of mine (and PCOS pooch) will ever fit into size 4 jeans. I have friends who ache because they thought they would be married by this stage of life or be further in their career or have a family. Wanting and trying just isn’t enough sometimes.

So then what? What happens when our expectations fall short of reality? I have found that when I focus my attention on what I want, my attention is so heightened to what I can’t have that it becomes an obsession. Never before in my life have I wanted to sit down and eat an entire loaf of Wonder Bread until I knew I couldn’t have gluten. Now I dream about it. (Kinda kidding, but not really.)

But what if I start letting go of the pursuit a bit? I am finding that simply loosening the reigns of the aggressive drive is helping me to minimize the adrenaline of the chase. And when that adrenaline goes down a little bit, the obsession lessens and suddenly I can see things a bit more clearly. (And the risk of idolatry lessens – more on that topic on a post from 2012 linked here.)

Don’t get me wrong – I still want (badly) to become a mom and have kids. I don’t think that will ever go away unless God does some major work on my heart, but what I am saying is I shouldn’t be obsessed with chasing that. Because the truth is, right now, our desires aren’t getting us anywhere and I’m tired of feeling drained due to infertility. Granted yes, some days the smallest gesture will still break my heart – seeing a dad wipe off his kid’s chin in the food court or walking past the baby section at Target – but when we step back, Josh and I find ourselves leaving kid-centered events saying “well, that wasn’t so bad!”. And we will still protect our hearts in areas we know that are triggers. It doesn’t make sense to put yourself in a place of hurting if you can avoid it. And other times, we have to suck it up and celebrate with others. I am still allowed to feel deeply and experience a range of emotions but my contentment MUST be rooted in Him above all else.

It’s good to think big and have hopeful expectations. We serve a God who rises up to meet and exceed our expectations. But when what we want becomes an obsession that we just can’t grasp, our happiness gets sucked out of us like water spinning down a bathtub drain.

I know we can find true joy in this waiting time. It is possible to live in a content state when our joy is rooted in HIM and not our circumstances. We can still take advantages of opportunities that come our way in efforts to pursue what we pray for, but we also can savor today for what it’s worth.

Today is the ONLY June 11, 2014 that we will ever have. I shudder at the thought that the days are going by faster than ever and I just don’t want to ever look back and regret that I lost the days in life because I was obsessed with a Want. Yes, there are still days and moments that are hard! This is life. Yes, there will be tears that fall. In the words of my go-to gal Shauna Niequist “…the ability to cry is a sign of health, because it means your body and your soul agree in something, and that what your soul is feeling, your body is responding to.” But when we pay attention, we find moments that are so simple and beautiful that I want to bottle them. Exquisitely colored sunsets. The smell of onions and garlic sautéing on the stove.  The sound of my nieces laughing at Cali. The softness of Josh’s hand as it holds mine. The smooth voice of Jason Mraz as the music washes through my speakers. I have missed too many of these moments because I have been focusing on my cycle day, my sadness, my medicinal side effects or frustrations. No more. No more.

Okay, now granted, I know I sound like a broken record. The truth is I slip in and out of moments of strength and determination. But I am becoming more aware of these cycles and the lapses are becoming shorter and shorter. I’m excited to see what’s ahead with the infertility boombox turned down a bit. I have a feeling this summer will be the best one yet.

See you Friday for a new Friday Favorites post! :)

burdens.

The church was quiet. All eyes turned forward to listen to the older woman speaking at the microphone. Her voice cracked with tearful emotion as she begin talking about a verse in Matthew that touched her heart over the course of a year-long study we had been doing.

She began to read the words of Jesus – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…(Oh I love this verse, my mind began to think) … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Rest for your souls … good stuff right there ..) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

During the course of her reading the verse, I immediately felt like an immense weight had been lifted off my shoulders, er shoulder. Shoulder? What was that noise? And why am I physically feeling absolutely no pressure on my left shoulder?

I kept my gaze focused ahead, now confused and distracted enough by my own miraculous light-yolked left shoulder situation to no longer be listening to the woman as I gave my shoulders a subtle wiggle. And that’s when I realized what happened. My bra strap had snapped and was no longer connected on one side.

It’s in this moment where I feel that I perfected my emotional nod-with-the-crowd face while on the inside panicking at the immediate and rapid response to gravity that was happening on my left side. Oh my goodness, did anyone else notice? Thankfully all eyes seemed to be focused ahead, oblivious to the fact that a nightmare of mine was occurring. Could anyone see the strap? I casually glanced over. Oh yes, I am wearing a sheer shoulder paneled shirt today. Awesome, so yes, the ladies behind me are probably noticing the strap creeping up my back as it heads …. Yep there it goes, over my shoulder. The room broke out in applause as the woman’s sharing time was up and she walked away. I need to clap, how can I do this without creating any more movement? Ah yes, the left-arm-still, right-fingertips-lightly-tap-the-left-palm clap.

Thankfully the time ended 20 minutes after the great “unburdening” and I shuffled my way out, clutching my Bible and books tightly to my lopsided chest and broke into a huge laugh as soon as my car door shut. This would happen to me.

Anyways, the whole thing got me thinking though. If only it was that easy to just hand over our heavy burden and have that strain be taken off our shoulders! (Literally in my case above, but more realistically, figuratively in our lives.) Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 that we are to come to Him and hand over our worries, cares, anxieties, and doubts and He will give us rest for our souls. This same messaged is echoed throughout the Bible. Psalm 55:22 says “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” and 1 Peter says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

But how do we do that? Here are some of my thoughts today:

1. Believe He is capable, that He cares, and that He is willing. More than any other lesson I have been learning in this season of my life, it is that if I believe in God (which I wholeheartedly do), then I need to believe His character and His words. His character is proven over and over and over again in the Bible and traits like compassion, love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, capability, deliverance, power, shine through the stories of the Old and New Testament. Because I know Him, I know that my worries, anxieties and cares are in the best hands possible and that He truly does want to carry them for me. (In fact, He already knows how this will all end.)

2. Practice. We have heard those words “practice makes perfect” before and I think in this situation, more than any, it becomes accurate. When we begin to make intentional choices to choose to give God our cares, it begins to break a mental habit that we have to carry it. We have to practice praying intentionally about that care and begin to substitute prayer for worry. We have to practice deciding to have gratitude for the problem, thankful that we have a chance to develop ourselves.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

3. Trust. Once we take our worries off of the spin cycle in our brain, we can begin to breath, feeling the weight starting to lessen as we remember whose hands our situation is in. That’s when we make the active choice to trust that God hasn’t forgotten about us or that He is intentionally trying to cause you harm or pain. If you are a Christ follower, then you can be assured “ that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God…” (Romans 8:28 NLT) So we make an active choice to rest in that trust.

If you are struggling today to figure out why you still feel like the burden is heavy, I prayerfully suggest that you spend some time with God today. It begins with simply forming a relationship with Him that goes both ways because it’s near impossible to trust a stranger and believe that they have good intentions.

Guys, this isn’t easy stuff! I struggle with it all the time. I give over my worry to God and then have a panic moment and race to bring it back in my hands. Some days it feels like a constant tug of war mentally, back and forth, back and forth. I trust you! WAIT!!! Kidding, kind of, here you go, I trust you …. Ummm, but what if ….

This is where practice comes in. We have to train those spiritual muscles of response just as we have to train our physical muscles. Keep verses on hand to read through when your anxiety begins to bubble. Pray. Talk to Him. And I guarantee you, with everything I have and am, that He really will give you rest and that you can be filled with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Who would have ever thought a breaking bra strap would lead to a blog post? Haha, not me, but hey, God uses these things in our lives for a reason. I’m just thankful no one called me Droopy.

 

audience.

A good writer always has a purpose to their writing, at least a specific audience. As I sit down to write, I often have to ask myself “who am I writing to”? In the beginning of my entries I was writing so that others could understand this world we live in, that of infertility. Then later it turned to writing to those who were suffering with infertility, or at least a Thing in their life that was a mind consuming storm. Other posts have been written merely for me, as a therapeutic release, a way to document and get out exactly how I was feeling. Some posts are light hearted, capturing funny moments and stories, and others entering some of the rawest places of my heart. Now here I sit, on my 112th post, reflecting back at the last 2 years of my blogging life.

I’ve come to realize that I may not have a specific purpose to my writing or a specific audience. I may not have a consistent “voice” because my life, seasons, and world is constantly changing. I may have readers that come and go, selecting certain posts to read and skipping over others. And that’s okay. Because writing opens up my soul and allows me to spit out my heart, finding words for emotions and feelings. I never imagined finding solace in front of a Word Document, but God has done some pretty neat things using these 10 little fingers of mine.

As I head into my third year of blogging, my prayer continues to be that you can find a place to relate to here – in whatever you are going through. I’m so thankful you have stopped by. I hope the scars of what’s on your heart will fade a little bit as you find someone to connect to. I do believe there can be beauty and light that shines through the darkness and it’s my goal to march on in search for peace, joy and finding more of Jesus. And of course, in keeping true to the title of my blog, with a Starbucks in hand.

Life is messy. We have dark corners, difficult hardships, losses and pain. So often in the attempt to keep a glossy, picture perfect life, we ignore the realities of our pain until it hits us like a truck at 1 am as we lie in bed. My desire for these mismatched writings of mine is merely that you can come in, find company and join in processing the questions and journey. When we face the reality that no one has a perfect life, we can enjoy the company and beauty in the moment more. We can acknowledge that maybe we aren’t as alone as we thought and that as tired as our little hearts are, they are still there, beating and breathing, slightly battered but open.

As I sit and write this, I am staring at a sign in a coffee shop that says “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” There are so many different ways to interpret this, but today I see it as a reminder to we need to live the life we are given. We aren’t getting any younger. Our current situation isn’t changing today and if our “worst case scenario” happens and we never have children, I would hate to look back at years of my life wishing I had embraced the moment more, not being consumed by my have-not’s instead of rejoicing in my ‘haves’.  So today I am going to throw some new paint on my canvas – bright colors, shades of robin’s egg blue and coral. I’m going to drink caffeine (gasp!) and go barefoot in the grass. Time to splatter this canvas.

All of that said, truly, thanks for reading. Thanks for joining me in the mismatched thinking of my brain and for being part of my story, even if it’s just through a browser on the internet. Let’s keep each other company, portraying life as it is, and weeding through the storms together. I may not have a clear audience or writing style, but I’m me … so I’m okay with that.

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